Smart Solutions

The Youth Fund – Engaging young people in local development

What is the purpose

The purpose of this method is to involve young people in local development, to increase their connection with the local community and provide opportunity to finance their own projects/ initiatives. The tool can improve youth participation in local development and increase youth capacity to implement project ideas.

The funding aims to promote:

  • entrepreneurial youth
  • active participation of youth in community life
  • connecting youngsters with their home village and region
  • youth returning to their villages after graduating from university or living some years in a city or abroad
  • innovative ideas to be implemented in your village

The basis is the creation of a Youth Fund for youth self-initiated small-scale projects. Such a fund can be set up in various ways. In the case of Tartu LAG, the fund is financed from the LAG’s own financial resources (mainly membership fees), and managed in cooperation with NGO Tartu County Youth Council (i.e. NGO Tartu County Youth Council managed the “mini-grant” calls with youth, i.e. the final beneficiaries). The allocations can come from local municipality, private entrepreneurs, community, EU funds, etc. The fund can also be operated as an umbrella project, e.g. under LEADER. For instance, before using the LAG’s own funds the Youth Initiative was operated as an umbrella project under the coordination of the LAG (as the main beneficiary), who administered the funds with support from the Youth Council.

The funding amount of the fund depends on the number of young people in the area where the fund is established and projects are implemented. Usually, it is good to foresee about 5,000 –10,000€ fund per year to support youngsters’ ideas.

The operation of the Youth Fund needs coordination and advisory support. Ideally, the coordination-advisory team itself should consist of or include young people, as they speak the same language as the final youth beneficiaries and can offer inspiration and motivation.

How does it work?

The fund works through open calls launched by the coordinating body ( association, municipality, LAG, etc). The support through the Youth Fund is realised through the following steps:

1. Defining the key features and conditions

  • The maximum (e.g €1000) and minimum (e.g. €200) amount of the project support to be provided per project;
  • The scope of actions supported: whether project support can be applied for both investments and “soft” activities (trainings, seminars, workshops, including cooperation activities, etc.);
  • Number of young people involved in individual projects: The projects are normally carried out by a team of at least 2 youngsters. Exceptionally, projects of individual applicants aimed at the development of individual talent might be supported;
  • Age of applicants (e.g. 12 to 26) and conditions for applying under certain age (e.g. young people under 18 might need a mentor’s support letter). Mentor can be a youth worker of the municipality, a teacher, a trainer, community leader, etc.;

2. Calls, applications and assessments:

  • Project applicant needs to submit an application form that includes draft budget with an explanation of project expenditures;
  • There could be several calls during the year: regular open project calls (typically 2-4 calls per year);
  • Project applications submitted by the deadline will be reviewed and, if necessary, additional questions will be asked about the project. The eligibility of the costs planned in the application is also checked;
  • The revised applications are then submitted to the committee that is set up to evaluate the project applications. The evaluation committee can consist of representatives of the village, region, school, youth centre, etc. It is also recommended that young people are included as evaluators. The evaluation results show, which projects will receive funding. Applicants will be notified of the jury’s decision.

3. Project implementation

  • After receiving a positive decision of the evaluation committee, the applicant may start the implementation of the project. The project will be implemented usually within 4 to 8 months after receiving the decision of the evaluation committee;
  • The process of covering financial expenses depends on the source of the funding and its rules. The main aim is to reduce administrative burden on young people (e.g. LEADER LAG or other umbrella organisation can take responsibility of the financial administration of the umbrella project). However, it is important to agree the specific rules with young people, including the possibility of pre-financing (if administrative rules allow); how, under what conditions and for what money can be spent; when and how to collect and submit evidence/ receipts, etc.;
  • Within one month after the implementation of the small project, the project applicant submits a short summary of the activities, results and copies of payment receipts/invoices and bank transactions to the fund coordinator. In the case of events, the agenda of the event, the list of participants and photos will be provided in addition to the summary. All events and investments are marked with necessary logos (logo of municipality, logo of LEADER, etc).

Who is the tool for?

The project is primarily targeted at local communities (villages, LEADER LAGs, etc.) who are willing to better engage young people in the life and development of the local community.

The applicant can be a young person or youth group (young people aged 12-26).

The support can be given in different fields defined by the local community, such as:

  • Development of entrepreneurship and social skills, e.g. interest-based trainings and workshops, business laboratories, open workshops / creative work / research, prototyping/ experimenting business ideas, etc;
  • Nature and environmental issues, such as hiking, camps, activities to promote sustainable mindset, etc;
  • Active communities, e.g. bringing together decision-makers and young people, organising community events, activities to increase physical and mental security, etc;
  • Open education and diverse learning opportunities, such as co-operation with museums, study trips, visits to companies, interest-based trainings, workshops etc;
  • Implementation of smart village strategy –youth active participation while implementing smart village strategy, youth can propose their own smart ideas and get project support.

Dos and Don’ts

  • DO involve youth in the implementation of the Youth Fund, so that the fund effectively addresses the needs of young people and ensures peer-to-peer learning.
  • DO think of small-scale projects (up to 1000 EUR), which are most feasible for youth.
  • DON’T make the application and process bureaucratic for youngsters. The scheme is about simplification.
  • DO start engaging young people already from the age of 12, which is a very important age group to be targeted!
  • DON’T do a single intervention but DO ensure regularity and sustainability. The Fund implementation must be ongoing to achieve long-term effect.

How the tool was already used?

The Youth Fund started in 2011 in Tartu County, Estonia. LAG Tartu County Development Association has provided Fund allocations, but the Fund is coordinated by Tartu County Youth Association, so the Fund works from youth to youth.

Until today some 150 good ideas have been implemented to promote entrepreneurial mindset of young people, including a wide spectrum of activities initiated by youth, such as youth camps, festivals, different trainings, business ideas development, equipment, etc. Total allocation has been about 70 000€ throughout 10 years.

Funded by